The Green Anger: Development Process and Near Future of European Farmers' Revolts

21.03.2024

Europe, which has hosted many different social movements since the past, has recently witnessed the rebellions and demands of various kind of formations and types of movements, which includes different dynamics, that come together to form different infrastructures, political groups and social segments. Political populations of Europe, which has historically contained continuous and large-scale social movements, have trying to explain themselves to the governments by using a variety of channels and tools, such as protests, actions, and press releases. These people, coming together from different backgrounds, organize demonstrations for a common purpose and try to convey themselves and their wishes to the governments. The common subject of such different formations consists of target audiences. The target audiences that shape various social movements have similarities and differences for each movement. Farmers’ uprisings, also in other words “Green Anger”, which are a new social movement that is taking place today and is still current, are among these kinds of social events. The target audience and main actors of the farmers’ uprisings consist of farmers who engaged in agricultural activities. The common motive that brings everyone together has a very diverse structure, we can say. The basic infrastructure of protests and actions stems from governments’ acceptance of farmers’ demands such as tax reductions, changes in policies and trade regulations, and farmers’ demands for improvement in their earnings and production processes. When the historical process is evaluated, the common ties of the farmers’ uprisings with other social movements have the potential to turn into a larger-scale social movement in the near future.

Immediately after the decreasing effects of the stagnation in trade and economy which seen right after the pandemic, farmers, who were once again in a financial difficulty due to the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war which added to the current situation, laid the foundations of the formation in December 2023 with the aims of correcting the situation, improving the conditions of the farmers and revising the policies. The actions of farmers who came together in Germany on January 15, when the protests firstly showed themselves, and their efforts to convey their demands to local governments and the European Union can be considered as the beginning of the Farmers’ Uprisings. The main purpose of the farmers that gathered in Germany was to demand of decrease in the taxes on diesel fuel used for agricultural purposes. German farmers came to Berlin with the tractors they used in agricultural activities, which they chose as the meeting place to organize their first protest. After the first protest took place in Germany, it was reported in the press, and later on the movement began to make a splash in many other EU member countries such as Belgium, Italy, Poland, Romania, France, Spain and Greece. As a continuation of the protests of German farmers on January 15, Romanian farmers came together the next day to demand the review and reorganization of the high fuel, energy and fertilizer costs, diesel taxes, insurance prices and of EU environmental policies. Immediately afterwards, farmers in France met in front of the European Parliament in Brussels and organized a protest. The rapid spread of the movement and the fact that the activities are organized in a way that supports each other gives the impression that it is actually the result of joint actions of all farmers in the European Union (EU) member states, rather than independent local protests. 

Upcoming Elections and Protests

If we look at in terms of scope, the biggest supporters of protests and actions stand out as centre-right parties operating in local governments. Right-wing parties in various member states openly express their support for the uprisings and protests. One of the most important reasons for this, is the upcoming elections to be held in both the European Parliament and local governments. The European People’s Party (EPP) has the strongest party in the European Parliament, with a high support base due to its right-wing stance in politics. EPP carries out various activities both in local governments and within the EU in order to create a voter base for the elections that will be repeated in the near future and to complete the preparations for the election. The most obvious example can be given as the meeting of the EU Ministers of Agriculture on January 23, shortly after the demonstrations and protests, regarding to the demands of the farmers and their statements on the steps that would be taken towards this issue. In this context, it is noteworthy that the efforts made by the right-wing parties are a work for the next elections and that they are making various efforts such as preventing riots by taking rapid steps to listening the demands of the farmers which in response to their anger and maintaining balance in local politics before the election. Rising populism in the rural areas of the member countries also leads to political competition, directly affecting decision-making mechanisms in centre-right parties.

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